Utility software

Flying Buttress 1.4

Flying Buttress (formerly BrickHouse) is a shareware app that puts a nicer GUI front end on Apple’s built-in firewall and provides access to features otherwise available only through the Terminal command line.

Installation of the program is simple. When you open the program for the first time, it’ll walk you through a quick setup process: selecting the network ports you want to protect, selecting the applications for which you’d like to allow incoming network access, and applying those settings to OS X’s firewall.

After this initial configuration, it’s easy to make changes by adding or removing ports and services to be monitored by the firewall. You can make these changes by running through the setup assistant again, or you can use the program’s main interface to tweak more than seventy monitoring options.

Flying Buttress also offers an expert mode that lets you edit and update the firewall’s configuration file. Thankfully, a built-in syntax checker will scan all the changes you make and flag any that are incorrectly coded—a feature you won’t find in the Terminal interface.

Flying Buttress isn’t perfect. While setup is easy, the program has limited documentation. If you want to make any changes to the firewall that aren’t included as standard options, you’ll need to know quite a bit about filtering techniques and networking protocols. Also, as its documentation freely admits, this is shareware (fully enabled without the registration fee), and the application is supported only as time permits.

Macworld buying advice

Flying Buttress is a very nice addition to Apple’s built-in firewall, providing easy access to features that would otherwise be unavailable unless you are capable of configuring OS X’s built-in firewall via the Terminal interface. While the developer admits that he can’t provide daily support, the program is solid and easy to use.

[ Jeffery Battersby is a network analyst and a regular contributor to Macworld. Testing performed by Daniel Adinolfi. ]

Flying Buttress puts an easy-to-use front end on Apple’s built-in firewall, giving you better access to more of the built-in firewall’s features.

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